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February 14th, 2010

Valentine’s Day 1991

I just found this photo of me on Jamie Livingston’s Photo of the Day website from February 14, 1991.

Here I am pregnant, in a bed at  Lenox Hill Hospital with pre-term labor. I had to stay there for a month so that my son, Henry, wouldn’t be born 4 months early.

His due date was June 12th.

I remember spending Valentine’s Day at the hospital. Hugh, who managed to stay strong throughout this ordeal, made me a beautiful valentine’s card that made me cry. And I guess he gave me a box of chocolates. Or someone did.

That was one of the most stressful times of my life. I thought Henry might not survive. I was under doctor’s orders to be calm and told not to laugh or cry. I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed, to stand. It was pretty awful. But staying calm was hardest of all.

CALM? How can you be calm in a situation like that?

I had so much love and support from Hugh, my family and friends. My parents, who divorced years before and were rarely in the same room together, were there day after day, side by side (able for the first time to overlook their own differences in the face of this emergency).

My sister, my cousins, my aunts, my friends, including one who figured out how to wash my hair while lying in bed, all rallied round. They brought food, books, magazines. Jamie gave me cassette tapes of his favorite ethnic music, another friend brought  Creme Brulee from a French Bistro, still another gave me an adorable stuffed dog that sat on top of the hospital TV like a mascot.

My twin sister gave blood for me (just in case). At first she was told that she was too thin to give blood. While she was disappointed about not being able to give blood, she was THRILLED to be too thin. As I recall, they told her to go out and have a big meal and then come back.

She did end up giving blood for me and I was grateful.

The room was often full of people. It was actually kind of festive and fun (sort of). I got so many flowers from a Upper West Side flower shop called Surroundings, it was a lush garden on my windowsill, which had a diagonal view of Park Avenue.

I remember wanting to connect with the baby(I had just learned that the baby was a he) but I was afraid because I thought he might die.

A wise person told me: attach to the baby inside of you. If something does happen, you will deal with the loss then.

And so I did. I soared at the art of positive even magical thinking. And you know what, it worked.

Henry was born on his due date. The nurse screamed out “He’s cute.” Indeed, he was the most adorable– and beloved — baby in the world.

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